COOS BAY — Coquille’s girls came into the Les Schwab South Coast Holiday Basketball Tournament as defending champions and left with two losses, including 45-41 to Junction City in Saturday’s fourth-place game, but coach Tim GeDeros came away happy.
“We’re getting better,” he said. “That’s what I want to see. I’m OK with a loss when we’re looking good.”
Coquille had a strong defensive performance but a poor shooting night against the Tigers, the notable exception being Morgan Baird.
The sophomore scored 25 points, a career high in high school, and added 11 rebounds and three assists, nearly leading the Red Devils back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.
The Red Devils had the ball down two points in the final 30 seconds, but couldn’t get a shot to fall and Junction City held on.
Coquille shot just 16-for-63 from the floor in the game and 6-for-11 from the line. The Red Devils kept the game close by forcing 26 turnovers.
“Our shots will start dropping,” GeDeros said.
North Valley had no trouble with its shooting — from the field and especially the line.
The Knights were at 50 percent from the floor through three quarters before cooling off a little in the fourth.
“We’re pretty good at shooting and we distribute (the ball) well,’ said Hailey Bruhn, who led the Tigers with 12 points.
Junction City was especially good at free throws, hitting all 13 attempts and rarely even having an attempt hit the rim. Bruhn attributed that to taking shots numerous times every practice.
Maddy Mehlbrech scored 10 points for the Tigers, McKenzie Evans had nine and Alexa Norris scored eight, including two 3-pointers. Evans also had 13 rebounds and was instrumental on defense inside against Baird.
For Junction City, the finish was an improvement for the seniors over past years in the tournament.
“It’s great,” Bruhn said. “We stepped up and did what we needed to.”
Baird, too, came away pleased with her team’s effort in the tournament.
“I’m happy that we’re getting to play intense competition,” she said. “The competition is making us better.”
Coquille has plenty of opportunities for that, facing Amity on Tuesday and then battling Salem Academy and two other good teams in the Salem Academy tournament after Christmas.